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We’re cancelling Christmas for a great reason

Christmas is cancelled

Could this be our last tree for 4 years?

It’s our first proper Christmas for a while and I’m wrapped in a blanket on the sofa besides our sparkly tree. Dominic the Christmas Donkey is on the radio (?!) and I’ve just arranged a bunch of glitter sprayed flowers in a vase. The lid has crept off the tin of Cadbury’s Roses next to me and I swear I can hear bells ringing from somewhere outside. Chris has even asked for a Christmas sweater from Santa. (Clearly he won’t be getting one)

All sounds idyllic? Just what I wistfully longed for at some point during every one of the last 3 Christmases spent overseas.

So if I’m so happy to be here, why the hell have we already decided we absolutely will not be here again next year?!

Who votes for a yearly migration to the sun

Every year we choose to abandon the grey winter months of Europe and base ourselves somewhere considerably more appealing. Anyone who has spent any length of time in the UK between October and February will know that this leaves us with a pretty broad set of options. If you could earn a living from somewhere the winter sun actually makes an appearance once in a while wouldn’t you jump at the chance?

Christmas in Australia

The traditional wine and Scrabble, Australia 2010

So what exactly are we doing here this year? The combination of my Dad’s 80th birthday, a hankering to improve our snowboarding skills and an unfettered nostalgia for a traditional Christmas on my part has cut our usual winter exodus short and landed us back in the middle of December. Ouch.

Whoa, slow down!

Seeing family and friends has been wonderful and does make our Christmases abroad seem quiet and lonely. But having just spent 3 months in Asia we’d got used to a somewhat more ‘streamlined’ way of life. Eating healthy amounts of food, limiting the stuff we buy to what we can wheel (with a strict one in one out policy), balancing work with plenty of free time, swimming, learning, exploring. Basically anti-Christmas.

Christmas in the Philippines

Christmas with our friends Claire and Will, the Philippines 2009

So returning to the UK has been a gear shift. There is no TIME for anything. There is always something else you should be doing, somewhere else you should be. Seriously, other countries are sitting on a goldmine, because there is simply more time there! Despite this chronic shortage, time must be prioritised for buying vast amounts of new STUFF. My head hurts.

What’s scary is how easy it is to get drawn back into the hectic pace and haywire priorities. Yesterday, while dodging out of the path of the latest ‘Nissan Wanker’ at Tesco Chris suggested that maybe we need a new car. What?? Aaah, getting sucked in after only 3 weeks! Secondly, and this one is a shocker which I’m a little embarrassed to admit- we haven’t done ANY work since we have been back.

When Santa brings you time and productivity

If it wasn’t mildly concerning the irony would be hilarious, given that we have been met with a certain amount of disapproval as is customary after returning from such a lengthy and self-indulgent ‘holiday’. It’s also worth a smile because so many people toying with the idea of fitting travel into their self employment worry about potential negative impacts on their business.

Christmas in Guatemala

Christmas BBQ, Guatemala 2008

Not only did we get far more work done in Thailand than we have had any TIME for here so far, every year we have spent Christmas away from home we have worked every day of the holidays apart from Christmas Day. Days seem like any other, and besides, when you can take time off largely when you like there is no need to do so when everyone else does. Can you imagine how much you can get done when no one else is at work? The emails are deadly silent; the phones still, it’s perfect. And think how productive you can be when there is no decorating or shopping to do? When the Armageddon style rush at the supermarket doesn’t affect you? Without the distractions of drinks and dinners or the delays of visits and overnight stays.

Cancelling Christmas

I’m not saying that all those things aren’t great; we are loving it. But, for the sake of our workload, bank balance, livers, weight, Vitamin D levels, stress and sense of novelty we’ve decided to limit how many Christmases we have. One every 4 years should do it, a sort of leap year basis. For anyone wondering if they can really afford to leave the country and work overseas during the winter we’d suggest sacrificing Christmas every once in a while- you’ll be amazed the good it might do.

Are you prepared to spend Christmas away from home?


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